Spicy foods are tasty and they give your tongue a little zing or a fiery blast when you eat them. Many spicy foods supply key vitamins and minerals, such as fiber and vitamin A, that you need for good health. They also contain compounds that might protect you from certain health problems. If can stand the heat, add spicy foods to your diet to reap these benefits.
Peppers With Pizazz
Hot peppers are among the most well-known spicy foods and their heat is thanks to a compound called capsaicin. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, capsaicin might be useful as a pain reliever and it’s been used to treat certain maladies such as digestive problems, poor appetite and circulatory disorders. The more capsaicin a pepper contains, the spicier it will taste and the higher of a Scoville rating it has, Byoung-Cheorl Kang and Chittaranjan Kole note in their book “Genetics, Genomics and Breeding of Peppers and Eggplants.” Scoville ratings rank peppers according to their heat. Sweet bell peppers are at the bottom of the list with no spice at all, while jalapeno peppers come at a Scoville rating between 500 and 5,000. A Thai chili pepper has a Scoville rating between 50,000 and 150,000, while one of the spiciest peppers is the bhut jolokia, which has a ranking of 1,001,304.
Garlic is Zesty
Though nowhere near as spicy as the spiciest peppers, garlic has a bit of a kick, especially when it’s eaten raw. Allicin is the compound in garlic that gives it the zing. It’s also the compound that gives garlic such impressive health benefits. According to Michael T. Murray, author of The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, the allicin in garlic may have the power to fight off infections such as the common cold and the flu. Murray also notes that allicin might fight more serious infection such as tuberculosis and botulism, but there’s no convincing research yet that supports this. Add a kick to tossed green salads, tacos and burritos by sprinkling fresh, raw garlic on top.
Curry With a Zip
Though not all curry blends are spicy, many blends can have quite a bite. The amount of spice that curry has depends on what spices are included. Many curry powder recipes call for cayenne powder, which contains capsaicin and can be quite fiery. According to Kang and Kole, cayenne has a Scoville rating between 30,000 and 50,000, which means it quite a bit spicier than jalapeno and Serrano peppers. Other ingredients, including paprika and dried mustard, can add a tiny amount of spice, too. Turmeric, the main ingredient in most curry recipes, has a warm flavor that’s not impressively spicy, but that might help treat an upset stomach and the pain associated with osteoarthritis, according to the MedlinePlus website.
Additional Spicy Foods
Foods made with peppers are often spicy. The most common examples include salsa, which usually contains jalapenos or Serrano peppers, and hot sauce, which can be made from any type of pepper and can range in heat level from mildly zingy to so spicy it’s painful. Many Asian recipes, such as stir-fry, can be quite spicy if it the recipe includes fresh peppers or cayenne powder. Many of these recipes also call for fresh garlic, which adds a bit more
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